Packers Hope To Silence Jets

Jets coach Rex Ryan says his team is the best in the NFL while the beat-up Packers are tied for first in the mediocre NFC North. NFC teams have had little success against the good teams from the AFC.

It's put-up or shut-up time.

The Packers are determined to pull off the former and drive the blustery New York Jets to the latter when the teams meet Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey.

"We don't really get into all that talking," said Green Bay receiver James Jones, taking a poke at the Jets. "We handle the talking out there on the field with our play. We don't buy into all of that. Hopefully, by the way we play, they won't have too much to talk about."

Backing up Jones' confident talk by walking the steady walk on the road may take a colossal effort for the Packers. After all, they have to play what unabashed Jets coach Rex Ryan propped up as the team to beat in the NFL this season.

"There's some great teams in this league, but we just think we're the best," Ryan declared Wednesday. "So, we're out to prove it each week."

Indeed, the 5-1 Jets have the top record in the league, matched by the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Interestingly, all three of those AFC teams have matchups Sunday with opponents that were supposed to be the class of the NFC. The Jets-Packers tilt in the early afternoon will give way to Patriots-Minnesota Vikings in the late afternoon, then Steelers-New Orleans Saints at night.

Thanks in great part to early-season struggles by the Packers, Vikings and reigning Super Bowl champion Saints, the NFC is clearly inferior to the AFC with the season almost half complete.

"You look at the NFC right now, it's pretty wide open," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.

Despite a rash of injuries to key players and corresponding inconsistent play, Green Bay's lot isn't looking so bad just because of how mediocre its conference and division have been. The Packers snapped out of a 1-3 tailspin by beating Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings 28-24 on Sunday night and caught the slumping Chicago Bears for the NFC North lead at 4-3.

"A big step would be to go to New York and get a win," Rodgers said. "That's going to be a difficult task, obviously. But, I think we need to look at this as a two-game season right now and try to get the one out in New York, then come home and beat Dallas (on Nov. 7 before the bye) and hopefully get healthy and get some guys back."

The early-season imbalance in the league doesn't favor the Packers' coming away with their first road win against the Jets, however.

Through the first seven weeks, the AFC held a 17-12 lead in games played against NFC foes. Of the wins by the NFC teams, only two came against an opponent that currently has a winning record — the 4-2 Houston Texans lost in both instances, to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Given the patchwork defense the Packers will put on the field Sunday to try to contend with the Jets' powerful rushing attack, the odds are stacked against Green Bay's delivering a blow to the AFC stranglehold.

Still, the unfazed Packers are talking a good game, quietly confident that they can do more than throw a Halloween scare into the Jets.

"Well, we're going to show up and play (Sunday)," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I don't know exactly who's going to be out there yet, but we'll be ready to go, I can promise you that."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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